Tilt Mode released ‘Man Down’ at the height of the collective’s cultural and military might, spreading its power across several otherwise drab and peaceable continents before the dueling demands of heavy duty sponsorship and real life in general intervened for many of the mode’s most heavily tilted. Here though was crew captain Marc Johnson having a good time in baggy shorts as the Rolling Stones stuffed their noses with disco-era stardust, enjoying his enormous talents amongst playgrounds and makeshift jumpramps before stretching it to its breaking point a few years later in the Lakai vid — his embankment backside 360 kickflip here is a much more relaxed edition than Alex Carolino’s in the contemporary Lordz vid, and tricks such as the switch backside nosegrind and the 5-0 backside 180 are for the ages. At a time when triple-striped shoes again adorn Marc Johnson’s feet after an acrimonious split with a shoe sponsor, it would be a treat to see him do another one like this.
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Sometimes it is the unlikeliest of dudes who ignite controversies, and so it was that digital rumorings last week of Mikey ‘Mike’ Taylor’s potential exit from the Alien Workshop roster sent forth such as outpouring of nerve-bending jubilation and pent-up bile as to recall the declaration of celebrated armistices and the sacking of Professor Dolores Umbridge, so many centuries ago.
Does Mikey Taylor deserve such fearsome condemnation? That’s for industry tribunals to decide, but dogs and cats alike are agreed that his back-door entry to AWS via the untimely folding of the pre-MTV Rob Dyrdek vanity label Seek left this shaggy-haired student of the Socal schoolyard an increasingly odd man out as flavors and kindling skewed toward cigarettes, flood pants and mounting handrails from behind. A more recent embrace of tailored cords and Dinosaur Jr aside, the question of whether a dude whose keyword search for years included the words ‘nollie crooks’ ever merited a Mike Hill graphic will go on, but there are a handful of easily accessible arguments in favor of Mikey Taylor’s bag running a bit deeper and woollier than he’s otherwise given credit for.
Switch ollie, ‘Street Cinema’
The switch ollie occupies an odd space in the great and foggy hierarchy of tricks, not particularly technically difficult but also generally not thrown down the most thunderous of gaps where a regular-footed one is safer and probably about as impressive. Sometimes they look ugly, more often it seems they’re not bothered with at all, so it’s interesting and maybe telling when someone takes the time to film one. This is a good one, under the tutelage of that denim-clad Svengali Kareem Campbell and at the end of a still-respectable line.
Switch feeble grind 180 out, ‘Mind Field’
This was an example of one of those tricks where the footage was real good but the angle of the photo, replete with cast and which looked like it could’ve advertised Contracts in the Es heyday, was even better. The switch feeble grind is one that gathers power the deeper its dip, and this one was in there, with a quick, smooth frontside 180 out well in advance of the newspaper box.
Line that ends with the switch backside noseblunt, ‘A Time To Shine’
The switch backside noseblunt is top-drawer technical and not one you’d necessarily expect from a dude who came up doing several nollie frontside boardslides and the odd salad grind, but Mikey Taylor was cranking them out on the regular for a large chunk of the prior decade. Schoolyards and wife-beaters with newly Nike-rich Paul Rodriguez and pre-Casanova Jereme Rogers seems more Mikey Taylor’s element, but the cocktail of bluntslide tricks here would suit most any self-respecting video section.
Line with frontside bluntslide and switch frontside bluntslide, ‘411 #63/Mikey issue’
Squarely amid Mikey Taylor’s Jay-Z phase, and they weren’t just handing out 411 features to anybody, so things were clicking for him. Stringing together lines with the same trick regular and switch isn’t and wasn’t a new idea but the frontside bluntslide is a hard one, and then he reaches for bonus points. Schoolyard again.
Frontside shove-it frontside crooked grind, ‘Skate More’
When PJ Ladd came he forced everybody to think a little harder about what they were doing with all the ledges, and a few years later Mikey Taylor got off a good one with what otherwise might be a curious ender for what a lot of folks still regard as his best part, though ditching Jay-Z for some second-tier Britpop was in retrospect an ominous indicator. This is a trick that still isn’t seen very often.
Arriving three quarters of the way through “Pretty Sweet,” Marc Johnson’s clean and fast opening lines sail through like a cleansing breeze after about an hour of heavy-handed editing and over-caffeinated cuts between three or four angles of the same trick. This part for me right now is far more enjoyable to put on than his “Fully Flared” opus, partly because it is a third of the runtime, and partly because Marc Johnson seems like he’s having more fun, though it sounds like some encroaching-deadline madness inevitably crept in. This dude has been steadily recording great video parts for almost 20 years and you respect his efforts to think up something new to bring each time out, but Marc Johnson is as watchable backside flipping benches and switch frontside flipping into banks as he is nollie backside heelflipping out of a frontside noseslide down a rail, or rolling away from that manual b/s 180 fakie manual, perhaps the best-conceived and for sure best-executed wheelie trick of the year. This dude can make a troublesome trick like the backside noseblunt backside 360 look fluid, the brick QP casper turned a lot of those endless flip- out iterations on their ear, and that fakie 5-0 on the guard-rail cruised like an expensive hovercraft.
Stevie Williams to me never really exuded rap-star decadence, but maybe I’m looking at it all wrong — here he is, tapping spots across three continents for a relatively slim three-minute part, stopping through the old Philadelphia stomping grounds because he knows how a far a couple tossed-off tricks will carry. It seems like Stevie Williams isn’t regularly mentioned among the all-time style slayers, even though his old Chocolate commercial inevitably bubbles up in any meaningful discussion of the best lines ever done, but his first run through the Barcelona blocks here reminds of a gap when he’s not out skating. The fakie hardflip, white tees, waist-high switch frontside noseslides and switch heelflips remain in effect but he still seems to be making an effort when it comes to clips like the switch front blunt and the switch varial flip nosegrind revert (a new spin on one of the all-time Lockwood classics). He keeps his ledge combos Satva and Lucas tasteful and finds a couple angles on the MACBA ledges that I haven’t seen before. Between the show-closer status, heavy Jay-Z tune and his first full part in years Stevie Williams sorta has this section tracking towards a ‘moment’ but does himself a favor by not overextending it toward the five-minute/two-song zone, whether by judicious editing or lack of actual tricks filmed.